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In Our Hands, Part 3: How To Lose What We Have

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In Our Hands, Part 3: How To Lose What We Have


Published 1950


Drama of an authoritarian (probably Communist-type) coup in the U.S., assisted by apathy, an indifference to federal intervention in community affairs, and lack of economic incentive.


Run time 11:48
Producer Wilding Picture Productions, Inc.
Sponsor American Economic Foundation, The (Inland Steel Co. & Borg-Warner Corp.)
Audio/Visual Sd, B&W

Shotlist

"We can lose what we have in America by a lack of interest in our government, a lack of training needed to recognize false promises and false leaders, an indifference to federal subsidy and control of community activities, and a lack of incentive for greater progress." Anti-communist film.







"These films are designed to explain THE AMERICAN ECONOMY. Each part tells, using dramatic sequences, what each title implies of our basic freedoms and economic freedoms of the United States of America." This deceptively simple description of the In Our Hands film series (of which this film was Part III) links political freedom to free enterprise, and in so doing reveals what this filmed appeal to patriotism is really about.
Like Make Mine Freedom (also on this disc), the In Our Hands series was part of a major corporate offensive to weaken organized labor and influence public opinion away from the liberalism of the New Deal period. But where Make Mine Freedom employs self-deprecating humor, How to Lose What We Have resembles a gangster or science-fiction film, a narrative about hostile, invincible enemies. This scenario was reenacted in many anti-Communist propaganda films of the Cold War era, such as Red Nightmare and the Communist takeover of Mosinee, Wisconsin, performed as a political stunt in front of newsreel cameras. (Part of the Mosinee stunt appears in the documentary film The Atomic CafZ<caron>.)
"Just what would we have to change to be sure to lose what we have?" Opening with an appeal to audience fears, How to Lose What We Have poses the unlikely case of a nationwide plebiscite on the question of limited government (what we ostensibly now enjoy) versus "unlimited government" and a planned economy. Notice that this is not a decision between capitalism and socialism, but between unregulated free-market economics and planning. Planning falls greatly short of revolution -- it doesn't involve expropriating major corporations.
The debaters seem rather relaxed, given the grave nature of the impending contest, and they occasionally give way to libertarian absurdities: "But we have free choice. We're free to try to make a profit, to just get by or to fail. Some of us do fail every day. But enough of us succeed so that every generation we double our production of goods and services." And the limited-government speaker even says, "Yes, sir, freedom of choice right down to the brand of cigarettes he smokes -- or doesn't smoke."
Helped by the anxieties and ignorance of the electorate, the "Master Plan" wins the election. It's not like anything we've ever experienced in this country, but it resembles Soviet-style forced agricultural collectivization with an unspoken sense of class revenge. To our family's pleasant suburban home comes a "Master State" pickup truck driven by a caricatured worker, who's just obeying orders and advises complainers to "button your lip." Following the orders of an effete "party member," he relocates the family 300 miles to a new job and gives their house and car to two replacement families. Says the truck driver, "I don't know what they're gonna do about churches and stuff."
Notice that this film isn't talking about dividing up the economic pie -- rather, it poses the "straw man" situation where everything is taken from everyone. Instead of responding to labor's call for a fairer distribution of national wealth, it asserts that any efforts at progressive social engineering will result in universal deprivation.
"Where government is not limited, no man is free." Shots of Stalin and troops marching in Red Square anchor this assertion to a specific nation. A shot of the U.S. Capitol suggests that this, too, is a center of unlimited and dangerous government. The film shifts from scare mode into a more reassuring tone. Echoing countless attempts at economic pseudo-education, the film "explains" how capital ("savings") is tied up in tools, and how "force would have to be used to take away our savings." And what else would we lose, if we lost what we have? Our "free choice as customers. In a free economy, we are all each other's customers." Enumerating the benefits of free enterprise, the film shows us bound children at a pie-eating contest, stating, "We're more comfortable. We're further from starvation and the whip of the police state."
What's most frightening about How to Lose What We Have isn't its tawdry narrative of conquest, but rather how up-to-date its arguments sound. The last two minutes of the film could have been taken from a Newt Gingrich speech on free-market economics. Haven't the conservative "revolutionaries" of the Nineties learned anything in the last fifty years?

EXCELLENT COMMIE PROPAGANDA
Ken Smith sez: Part 3 of this series is its topper, a kind of capitalist's Red Nightmare. It opens as the narrator tells us, "Let's see what we'd have to change to be SURE TO LOSE what we have."
We see average Americans Tom and Midge watching a presidential debate on TV (this is the future, of course). "We've already amended the Constitution dozens of times," smirks the portly, obviously evil candidate. "Let's throw it away for a Master Plan run by a Master State!" The thinner, tousle-haired good-guy candidate is appalled. "We have free choice!" he cries. "We're free to try and make a profit!" The sneaky, well-fed fellow traveler, however, promises "full employment and full security" and adds, "We're already on our way. We've partly socialized incomes. We're going ahead and socialize property, too!" "But what price freedom?" cries the good candidate. "You can have full employment and full security -- in a penitentiary! Government can't control everything without controlling ME!"
Tom and Midge's friends fall like a ton of Red bricks for the soothing Commie line. "I'm tired of being kicked around!" says one. "I think it sounds wonderful!" adds another. "Full security! Why SHOULDN'T the government take care of us?" Tom and Midge, well-intentioned, misinformed fools that they are, hesitently agree.
Now comes the montage of screaming headlines: MASTER PLAN WINS, BANK ACCOUNTS FROZEN, MARKETS SUSPENDED, LABOR FORCE TO BE REDISTRIBUTED. Tom and Midge quickly dicover the error of their ways, as a man wearing a bow tie and a Good Humor Man's cap shows up at their front door -- to kick them out of their house and forcibly relocate them to another part of the country! "But I LIKE my job!" Tom protests. "Sorry," smirks a government agent in a large, evil hat. "It's part of The Plan. You VOTED for it."
Tom and Midge -- who is cradling their baby (the baby always appears at key moments of angst in this series) -- are hauled away in the back of an open truck with only the few belongings they're allowed. "How far does The Plan go?" Tom plaintively asks the driver. "All the way, mister. All the way."
How can we avoid the horrible fate of Tom and Midge? The narrator reminds us that, "We all want to live in a better world. We all want to have MORE!" but that "Where government is not limited, NO man is free!" (shots of Red Square and Stalin let us know what he means). Human greed is nicely recast as "incentives and opportunites" and we're told that "Nobody in his or her right mind would willing sacrifice FREEDOM for the iron discipline of a regimented state. In a free economy, we are all each others' customers!"
As America The Beautiful plays underneath and we're treated to shots of cloverleaf interchanges, pie-eating contests and the Statue of Liberty, the narrator concludes: "We're better clothed, we're more comfortable, we're further from starvation...We're FAR better off than the rest of the world!"

man speaking as if on a soapbox to crowd
Anti-communism Capitalism Free enterprise Politics Economics Horror stories Relocation (forced) election debate television future TV
Danger Lurks Safety
Now that we have seen what we have in the United States, let's talk about how to lose it. Just what would we have to change to be sure to lose what we have? [homes houses driveways windows]
Suppose this is the night before a national election. Suppose you sat in this room, and saw and heard this: "Let me sum it up this way. You are going to vote tomorrow in the election, which will do one of two things. Keep our limited government with its constitutional freedoms, rights, and responsibilities, or change them for unlimited government and a planned economy." [families watching television men women announcers panels]
"We've already amended the constitution dozens of times. Let's throw it away for a master plan run by a master state." "Would you care to reply to that?" "I certainly would.
At this time there are some ten million work places in the United States. Ten million places where we're free to make ten million plans. We're free to try any new idea, new product, new service, new anything. But we're all human beings. We can't all be right. But we have free choice. [sets United States maps lights backdrops capitalism free enterprise freedom laissez-faire economics]
We're free to try, to make a profit, to just get by, or to fail. Some of us do fail every day. But enough of us succeed so that every generation we double our production of goods and services.
Under a master plan, there would only be one plan. With just one plan there wouldn't be any room for a mistake. If anything went wrong with a master plan, the result would be a national disaster, and every man, woman, and child would suffer for it." "Wait a minute. Wait a minute. We know all we need to know about how to produce things. What we don't seem to know anything about is distribution.
We haven't solved such things as full employment, real security, from each according to his ability and to each according to his need." "Sure that sounds good, but how are you going to do it?" "We're already on our way. We've partly socialized incomes, we're going ahead and socialize property too. Let the people own the means of production, transportation, and communication. Let the people have full employment and full security." [socialism communism planning communists socialists]
"But what price freedom? You talk about full security, full employment. Why, you can have that in the penitentiary. I'm here tonight because I believe in the right of an individual to be able to choose the kind of job he wants with a company he wants to work for, in the part of our country he wants to live in. Yes sir, freedom of choice right down to the brand of cigarettes he smokes - or doesn't smoke.
Government can't control everything without controlling me - what I can say and what I can't say. And I mean police control that tells me where I'll work, where I'll live, and all the rest of it." "Just words. The people know what they want.
Vote against the old, ruthless, sick American economy with its private property and its so-called free, competitive enterprise. Vote for the master state with the master plan." "Our time is almost up. But tomorrow you'll be able to vote to keep what we have or to change for a total economy where everything will be run according to a master plan - for or against the master state under the master plan. Thank you and good night."
"Well, what do you think?" "I'm for it. I'm tired of being kicked around." "I think it sounds wonderful." "He said it would mean full employment. That's something." "Just think what that means." "Full security. Why shouldn't the government take care of us?" "I'm afraid I don't understand it very well." "Well, the way I get it, everything'll be planned. And the whole country will run according to the plan." "What's wrong with that? They talk about free enterprise, private enterprise, I'm sick of listening to 'em. I'm going to vote for it." "Well I am, that's for sure." "I guess I will too."
"Here's good news. Workers in some mass production industries are about to be quickly moved to new locations so that under the master plan the right man will be at the right job at the right time." [Master plan wins. Claim end of business cycles. All bank accounts frozen. Markets suspended under plan. Insurance companies taken over. Labor force to be redistributed. First five year plan. newspaper headlines announcers scripts radios microphones propaganda smiles smiling]
"Here we are." "It's a nice home, Bob." "Yes, but I wonder how they're gonna take it." [Master State. Truck No. 58003 pickup trucks pick-up trucks relocation drivers]
"Hi. This your house?" "Yeah." "Here. Two families are going to live here. You're being transferred. See - it's all right here." "What do you mean? I'm not looking for another job." "Well how should I know? Don't yap at me, brother." "I don't get it." "So, you don't get it." "Ah, good morning." "Ask him, he's the party man." [orders hats]
"Hey what is this?" "Well, this is correct." "Look. I like it here. I don't want another job." "Well, it may seem a little rough at first, but in the long run it will be better for everybody." "But -" "When the truck is unloaded you can take your personal things and we'll move you and your family."
"I live here. I work here!" "Yes, I know, but that plant's been closed, temporarily." "It has? You mean I've got to drive to another state, right now?" "Tom, what's that man - what's going on here? Move?" [forced relocation forcible relocation displacement moving]
"Haven't I got anything to say about this?" "Well, what do you want to say?" "Well, I've got some right." "Of course you have. Okay, come on folks. We need your house for two families now, and they'll use your car, too." "What?" "You better start now to get your things together. Okay, folks - inside."
"Oh Tom." "Now, now, now, don't be worried. You'll only be out of employment for a day or two." "Wait a minute! You can't do this to me."
Government can't control everything without controlling me - what I can say and what I can't say. And I mean police control that tells me where I'll work, where I'll live, and all the rest of it. "We worked so hard. Now we've lost our house, our car. I didn't even get a chance to finish new curtains for the kitchen.
Tom, what's happening to us?" "They say we'll get government certificates for all private property." "Can't we go to court? Or go to somebody?"
"Say, how far does this go?" "About three hundred miles." "No. I mean this plan." "Oh, the plan. All the way. Everything's going to be better under the plan." "Yeah?"
"Don't be like that. You're going to like it. See?" "Sure. I'm going to like it." "Could I ask a question?" "Sure. Why not?" "Our baby, she's never been baptized, does that mean that -" [anti-religion atheism]
"Look. I'm not a full party member. I'm just driving this truck. I don't know what they gonna do about churches and stuff like that. But you better button your lip. Just remember it's all part of the plan.
What are you yapping about? You voted for it." Of course it would never happen this way. Real freedoms are eaten up a little at a time while government controls are slipped on, while the real power is collected into a few hands. Where government is not limited, no man is free.
Change limited government to unlimited government and our rights would be only what the master planners say they are. No longer the servant of the people, government would be the master of the people. [Washington, D.C. U.S. Capitol building wipes Red Square Moscow, Russia Soviet Union Russians Josef Stalin Joseph Stalin demonstrations May Day parades soldiers salutes Communism Communists rifles bayonets]
That's the way to change what we have. Take all power and all freedoms away from the people and collect everything into the hands of one small group with absolute power. [United States animation animated maps lights]
But - and think about this - we would have the same manpower, the same brains and muscles we had before, but without our present incentives and opportunities, and that would change something else. [industry factories workers crowds masses American flags]
Tools always come from savings. Government has nothing it does not take away from the people. With unlimited government, whether they wanted to or not, force would have to be used to take away our savings, just to get the tools they must have to carry on production. [steam shovels mining extraction digging capital earthmoving dirt dump trucks dumptrucks Danger Stop, Look Listen ore factories gondola cars railroad freight cars ladle iron steelmaking molten metals steel mills sparks]
It's the difference between force and freedom. Nobody in his or her right mind would willingly sacrifice freedom for the iron discipline of a regimented state. [steel workers steelworkers steel mills rolling mills pig iron pigs]
It can't allow individual freedom such as our free choice as customers. In a free economy we are all each other's customers. [women housewives consumers pots pans cooking ware stores refrigerators shopping consumerism streets sidewalks crowds people shopping]
Every farmer and rancher is free to farm or not to farm, free to work for himself or for somebody else. Free to save and buy his own land, his own seed, to invest in more and better tools, free to sell what he produces for a profit or a loss. [cows herds dairy cattle farming agriculture farmers]
Every worker in this country has the right to live and worship and work as he chooses. It's as simple and fundamental as the right of workers to work and to bargain for their wages and working conditions, the right of management workers to manage, savers to invest, and the right of all of us freely to buy and sell. [assembly lines workers assemblers auto workers automobiles engines presses flywheels machines machinery managers banks Elmville National Bank brass plaques signs]
All this is part of what we have. Freedom for all is the key. We'll take up more of our great problems later. When you look around and think about what we have, don't forget for a moment that we do have more individual freedom. We're better clothed, we're more comfortable, we're further from starvation than the whip of the police state. [workers factories industry masses aerials highways Chicago cities New York West Side Highway 79th Street Boat Basin automobiles cars crowds streets sidewalks pedestrians pie-eating contests boys stunts grotesque oddities eating]
We're far better off than the rest of the world. We have our great men and women - and we have some flannel-mouthed fools, too. We all want to live in a better world. We all want to have more. But there's no mystery about what we have or how to lose it. [atlas New York street speakers stump speakers rabblerousers rabble rousers soapboxes children Rockefeller Center sculpture St. Patrick's Cathedral lakes park benches leisure recreation]
Let's look straight into this one. Let's talk about how to lose what we have, and what that would mean to you. [Let's talk about how to lose what we have . . . Statue of Liberty]

Voiceover:
"Now that we have seen what we have in the United States [in parts 1 and 2 of series], let's talk about how to lose it. Just what would we have to change to be sure to lose what we have. Suppose this is the night before a national election. Suppose you sat in this room and saw and heard this.[on television].

TV announcer: "You are going to vote tomorrow in an election which will do one of two things, keep our limited government with its constitutional freedoms, rights and responsibilities. Or change them for unlimited government and a planned economy."

Panel discussion follows of what it would mean if the U.S. government and economy were centralized and nationalized.

man argues for the throwing away of the Constitution.

"But what price freedom, you talk about full security, full employment, why you can have that in a penitentiary. I'm here tonight because I believe in the right of an individual to be able to choose the kind of job he wants, the company he wants to work for and the part of the country he wants to live in. Yes sir, freedom of choice right down to the brand of cigarettes he smokes or doesn't smoke."

Family is thrown out of their house and relocated as part of the master plan.

footage: Joseph Stalin; American workers streaming into plant; earth moving equipment;

"with unlimited government, whether they wanted to or not, force would have to be used to take away our savings, just to get the tools they [central gov't] must have to carry on production; it's the difference between force and freedom. Nobody in his or her right mind would willingly sacrifice freedom for the iron discipline of a regimented state. It can't allow individual freedom such as our free choice as customers. In a free economy, we are all each others customers."

cows herding; city street scenes; pie eating contest. Statue of Liberty

"every worker in this country has the right to live and worship and work as he chooses. It's as simple and fundamental as the right of workers to work and to bargain for their wages and working conditions. The right of management workers to manage, savers to invest, and the right of all of us freely to buy and sell."<BR>

comment
Reviews

Reviewer: Mildred Machiavelli - - September 25, 2011
Subject: Laughable commie paranoia
Gullible conservatives' favorite nightmare fantasy. At least the future society is apparently all white. Silly film presumes Americans of all stripes wouldn't fight to protect their homes, jobs and faith.

Nice that they included the bit about how we must preserve the right to collectively bargain. You don't have to live under the Master Plan to get that taken away these days.
Reviewer: makeminefreedom@aol.com - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 24, 2011
Subject: 5 Stars
I love Liberty and our Constitution...even after 230+ years. Thats right commies, I GET OFF on it!
Reviewer: donwert - favoritefavorite - May 31, 2010
Subject: Out of the clear blue of the western sky!
Unintentionally funny bit of corporate propaganda from Borg Warner and Inland Steel produced at the beginning of the McCarthy era about a communist takeover of America. This is a right-winger's favorite scary campfire story. Based on some of the posts below and the so-called Tea Party movement, right-wing extremists still get off on it 60 years later.

Gee, I always wondered what Sky King did before he got the Songbird....and now I know!
Reviewer: rgmreview - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 27, 2009
Subject: Fundamentally Change America
Vote to "Fundamentally Change America", and so the people did...

A prophetic and ironic video. Now let's fundamentally change congress to have no incumbents in 2010.
Reviewer: Ron Raygun - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 5, 2009
Subject: FASCISM or COMMUNISM
SECURITY, FULL EMPLOYMENT, but under a system of SLAVERY? FREEDOM OF CHOICE???? Not under the "PLAN". The American sheeple just elected another big liberal attorney. Normally, attorneys are in the bottom of the barrel when it comes to people poles. Folks, ITS ALL ABOUT FREEDOM ! This film could repeat it a little more.
Reviewer: dddienst - favoritefavoritefavorite - October 18, 2008
Subject: Wow how far
I was reading the review from 2003 that said:

>>The idea that there'd ever be a US election between one capitalist candidate and one communust candidate, and they would sit civilly and politely interrupt one another on TV, let the commie have the last word etc (on a corporate TV network, no less) is friggin' hilarious.

And here is is 2008 and we are watching debates for president between a fascist and a socialist.

What new America will you vote for?
Reviewer: Flick Harrison - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - October 30, 2003
Subject: Looks more like capitalism
Watching the poor homeowners getting thrown out of their house, I couldn't help but wonder why two families were moving in - they seemed so happy to get a house at all. The fact that houses were in short supply on the first day of the new plan suggests that capitalism wasn't quite perfect after all.


I have had many friends chucked out onto the street by capitalist landlords, usually to let their kids move in, or to raise the rent, so... that particular "Communist" threat is a little weak. And the Party man's argument, that the factory was shut "temporarily" and that "in the long run it'll be better for everyone" sounds suspiciously like capitalist globalization rhetoric. Just watch "Roger and Me" and see if you think it's the communists who shut down plants and force workers to move.


In fact, the commies in this film at least have another job and house to hand over to the hapless worker, and provide a moving truck to drive them there, unlike General Motors! Sounds like a pro-commie film to me!


Also, the "presidential debate" at film's opening is so trumped up it's hilarious. "Vote for the Master State and the Master Plan!" Right... how sinister. And the voters say, "I don't really understand it... I'm going to vote for it." Their biggest complaint about the capitalist is "I'm sick of being told how great freedom is! I'm voting for the master plan!" Then they place "Imagine how great full employment would be" in the midst of nonsense like that. Yeah. Imagine how great full employment WOULD be.


The idea that there'd ever be a US election between one capitalist candidate and one communust candidate, and they would sit civilly and politely interrupt one another on TV, let the commie have the last word etc (on a corporate TV network, no less) is friggin' hilarious.
Reviewer: Yosemite1967 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 22, 2003
Subject: Run, commie, run!
You can always tell when you've hit a commie nerve--all you get is spittin', swearin', and Stalin-speak spoutin'. If you don't like capitalism, please move to your favorite communist state and starve to death, like most populaces of communist nations eventually do.

For the rest of you who can see the forest for the trees, this series is a great one to call your neighbors over to watch while eating some good ol', butter-smothered, capitalist-produced popcorn.
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavorite - August 18, 2003
Subject: We Aint not to lose what we have because we're Americans! (snicker)
A very nicely thought out story using the same actors from 'What we have' which tells of a 'Government Plan' Government coming into power. What the government didn't tell us is that their 'plan' meant taking away our home and our car! Arrgh! Some nice acting here, especially from the actor who plays the husband who resorts to yelling at one point in the story, which we don't see much of in films such as this..
Reviewer: marcpa - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 20, 2003
Subject: propaganda
Interesting piece of history.

Rather smart in comparison with leftist and communist propaganda.
Is there an "elegant" or "intelligenr" way of talking about communism ?

Sure enough, there is an efficient way.
The movie demonstrate it.
Reviewer: adrianclark - favoritefavoritefavorite - January 15, 2003
Subject: Thanks to all involved
I only just discovered this archive today - what an absolutely wonderful historical resource.

"How to Lose What We Have" is just so funny. Naive and heavy-handed propaganda at its best. Interesting to compare that with (only 9 years later) "Till it Helps", about the St Louis United Fund... the latter offering a view of the future based firmly on the need for social welfare.
Reviewer: elena - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 17, 2002
Subject: Good movie
Great movie: evokes patriotic feelings. Though some of information seems a bit over the board. But in general this is a good example of what American values are.
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